The dictionary defines ‘content’ as being in a state of happiness and satisfaction. The world would have us believe that to be able to be in a state of happiness and satisfaction, we need a certain job, an abundance of possessions, the ‘perfect’ partner, a new house, plenty of money, a decent car and so on and so on.
I believe the Bible would define ‘being content’ quite differently. I believe it would be along the lines of being satisfied with what you have, regardless of your current situation.
Paul says in Philippians chapter 4, verses 11b-13:
“…for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
What is the secret of being content?
Paul says he had learned the secret of being content. So, what is the secret dear Paul? I think the answer lies in looking to Jesus. In knowing who we are in Christ and what we have through Him, and believing we are God’s precious child and knowing what we ask for, we will receive (Matthew chapter 7, verses 7-8).
Sure, it’s easy to be satisfied and happy when everything is going along nicely, but it’s a lot harder when your current situation is one of hardship.
It has taken me a while to learn the art of contentment, and I am slowly getting there. There have been many times when I have been in one place but wanted to be somewhere else, hence taking away the joy of the present moment.
I would often have the feeling of being restless, having ‘itchy feet’, thinking I would be happy once I had a regular job, a child who actually slept, a husband who whisked me off my feet with romantic dates and have a completed house.
But God showed me to continue to look to him, to be thankful for what I do have – as to someone else in the world, I would be living their absolute dream.
Living the dream
I don’t know if it was God giving me this revelation or just a random thought I had one day, but I remember saying to my husband that to some other people in the world, our life would be their ultimate dream. To have a house in a peaceful place, a healthy child, work, and loving friends and family.
We have much to be thankful for, and top of the list is knowing Christ.
In 1 Timothy chapter 6, verses 6-7, Paul says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it.”
There is so much truth to this. We must learn to be content with our lives, regardless of what we do or don’t have and regardless of our current situation.
For Paul to talk so much about being content is a huge lesson for us, as he suffered so much. He was imprisoned, ridiculed, rejected, persecuted, yet he says he learnt to be content in all situations because it is “Christ who gives me strength”.
I believe God wants us to enjoy our lives and to “eat, drink and enjoy the fruits of our labour” (Ecclesiastes 3 verses 12-14), but our current situation shouldn’t dictate our state of happiness or satisfaction.
An article on Crosswalk talks about ‘3 Keys to Contentment’, with one being about changing our focus:
“In order to really know and understand true contentment we have to realize that our hearts will only be satisfied when they are satisfied with him. We must look up and learn to live for an audience of one.”
Jo Fuller is a primary school teacher with degrees in journalism and education. She currently lives on the Sunshine Coast with her husband and young son.
Jo Fuller’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jo-fuller.html